I woke early to catch the sunrise, setting up my easel and oil paints in almost full darkness. A crescent moon with one bright and one dimmer star (Venus and Regulus, I think?) hung over a pale horizon, reflected in the lake.
Oil on a Raymar linen canvas panel, 8 by 10 inches, ready for framing. Click here to see it in my Etsy store.
Here is a little map of the sky I looked up on skyandtelescope.com after I got home, to figure out what I was seeing.
At dusk on July 11 the thin crescent of the waxing moon set alongside Regulus: the Heart of the Lion.
“Regulus, the brightest star in the constellation Leo the Lion, is known to spin rapidly on its axis. If it spun only slightly more rapidly, the star would fly apart.” – Earthsky.org
I’ve had it in my head that if you hold a quarter at arms length, that’s about how large both the sun and moon appear from Earth. Not true. I tested it out and was surprised at how tiny the moon looks. With a ruler held at arms length, it measured less than a quarter inch. I’ve noticed that when I take photos the moon looks smaller. I thought it was the camera distorting the scene, but it’s my brain doing the distorting. My mistake is probably unrelated to the “moon illusion” where the moon seems larger towards the horizon. (It’s really the same size, of course, but it appears slightly smaller, since it’s farther away from the viewer by one Earth radius).
If you’re outside today, stay cool and wave to the Cassini spacecraft – it’s taking a photo of Earth through the rings of Saturn, over a billion miles away.